Innovating beyond the traditional tin lantern – a simple wick attached to the can – Kouassi Bafounga cuts shapes from tin cans and fixes them together with glass, string and a little petrol to produce storm-proof lanterns.
Last year, Bafounga was one of 11 winners in a “Fab Lab” innovation competition run by the French embassy and Alliance Française, a French cultural centre in Bangui, with financing from the European Union’s Bêkou Trust Fund. The finalists, chosen from more than 100 applicants, received assistance to develop their products into businesses.
Inna Lazareva writes on this “creativity from crisis” sharing stories of inventors and makers who must single-handedly create solutions for daily needs in highly volatile conditions of material scarcity.
Given the challenges faced by the Central African Republic, I see these stories as evidence of the resilience of innovation, something often overlooked when we ooh and ahh over the creations themselves.
How can we learn from this?